Monday, February 28, 2011

Glass in the attic

I brew beer. I like to drink beer. I am in fact... A Beer Guy!
There are plenty of things that I love about beer... Mostly brewing it. I would rather brew than about anything else. I can't explain it, and quite frankly, I don't feel any need to. Those who brew understand, and those that don't are just plain missing out.
I put a lot of effort into each brew.
From the hours obsessing over what style will be made to the days researching recipes and the sleepless nights thinking about the difference a yeast or grain bill addition will make, to the actual brew day when sanitation and details rule the day, there are plenty of steps that go into every beer that I can not even list.
When you pour your heart and soul into a fermented concoction, you want to pour that concoction into the proper glass.
I like to make wine and mead, but it takes 1/10 the planning and execution of beer. I make wine like I make Kool Aid. Mix, forget, rack, forget, bottle. It's pretty much that easy.
People would never think of drinking wine from a bottle, and I just described my wine method. The fact is, I pour wine into any wine glass that is handy and call it good.
Why in the world would you drink a beer with any less attention to detail?
In fact, I obsess over beer glass! I hand wash them. I polish them with a linen towel, and I store them in a separate cupboard. I would probably take them into the bedroom and set them safely on the dresser at night if SWMBO would let me.
I don't think that is normal, but nothing I do is "NORMAL" so it's OK!
The good folks over at BeerPHXation do a good bit of posting about properly serving beer. David
There is no headspace for any beer foam, which means either a short pour with head, or a full pint with absolutely no head. Anyone who has enjoyed a properly poured heffeweizen in a traditional weizen glass with a three finger head on it will know what proper beer foam brings to the craft beer experience.

I have even heard Vinnie Cilurzo, Brewmaster at Russian River Brewing Co. say that a shaker pint is one of the worst ways to serve beer. His beer, centering around barrel aged sour and what I would call "Exotic" brews... benefit more from proper service than the average
While I think that even a plastic cup is better than a bottle, there are a lot better ways to serve beer than a shaker pint. Most of my beer drinking happens at home, so I am ultimately responsible for how my beer is served.
Confession time: I own a few shaker pint glasses. But I certainly haven't poured beer into any of them since reading David's post.
I have relegated my shaker pints to the bottom cupboard where they are used for Rum and Coke, Water, Iced Tea, Milk, and the occasional Four Loko or Rum and Red Bull.
There are better beers than Bud, Miller and Coors! There are better ways to serve it than a shaker pint!
If I don't know what to use, or don't have the optimum glass clean, I will use a wine glass. It's always a better choice than a shaker!
Won't you all join me in the quest to invest.... Invest about $3 in an adequate glass for your beer?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Vinegar, The final frontier… at least for alcohol.

Also at

Just when you think you’ve done it all, something new pops up.

I’ve made beer… Lots and lots of beer. Some great, some terrible, but most somewhere in the middle.

I’ve made wine. Country wine from fresh fruits and vegetables, kit wine of grapes and bags of who knows what and I’ve made mead. Honey and water in every conceivable combination, with fruits and spices and flowers and even a batch with what amounted to lawn clippings.

With limited success, I’ve made clean beer, I’ve made funky beer, I’ve made sour beer and I’ve made Belgian beer. I consider myself an expert at nothing. But an adventurer none the less, and willing to try nearly anything that’s not illegal… and a few things that are. (Homemade whiskey is another post altogether).

So what to do once you’ve converted every known sugar source into alcohol? How about turning that alcohol into vinegar?

Apple cider seems like the obvious choice. It’s widely available, and really nice on salads and vegetables. Malt vinegar is a tried and true favorite, fish and chips and all. But how to make one MINE. Something you can’t get anywhere else.

Well, I began with some research on the interwebz… and promptly ignored about 90% of what I learned. Forget building up a starter mother, pitch it and see what happens.

So far, I’ve only used “Bragg” organic apple cider vinegar as a starter culture. It’s available at big grocery stores and on Amazon and at vitamin retailers. It’s good vinegar weather you’re making a salad or a batch of your own, so no big risk in shelling out $5 for a bottle.

The first batch I started was in a glass jug. I used about 1/3 gallon of Ed Worts Apfelwein (If you are unfamiliar, visit and search for it) and a shot glass of Bragg’s vinegar.

By the time I’d started that little experiment, I’d ordered a 1 gallon oak barrel for the next batch. I can’t think of anything more unique than oaked apple cider vinegar!

But that wasn’t enough. I love salad dressing with a vinegar and fruit character, so why not peach wine vinegar?

I quickly modified the Apfelwein recipe to use White Grape Peach juice, and once fermented out, I’m pitching another shot glass of Bragg’s into it.

None of the batches are done, and I have no idea what I’ve created. All I know is that I’m very excited about trying all of my new concoctions, and I’ve found a new way to take my brewing another step further down the road.

Perhaps these batches will all fail, and I’ll have to go buy a “Mother” from “The Brew Hut” in town, or maybe they will be OK. The fact is, I won’t know for several weeks. But isn’t that the fun of brewing in the first place?

Expand your knowledge, explore new things. Build your skill set and make yourself happy!

The adventure never stops

The adventure never stops
with the Buck Reilly series